Jazz veteran Herbie Hancock has written a letter to a judge in support of a friend who is facing jail on drugs charges.

Bruce Veniero, 71, is facing 10 years in prison after spending more than a decade on the run in South America. He pleaded guilty to a number of drug smuggling charges in New York City in 1998, but disappeared after skipping out on his $1 million (£588,235) bail.

He will be sentenced on Friday (18Jul14) in Long Island Federal Court, and his friend Hancock has written a note to the judge overseeing the case to ask for leniency.

In the letter, the musician calls Veniero a trusted friend who has given him "unceasing support and encouragement throughout the years," according to the New York Daily News.

The pair is believed to have grown close in the 1970s when Veniero ran a restaurant in California where Hancock often performed.

Veniero was brought back to the U.S. after he was arrested by Interpol officials in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2009.